Johnnie Taylor's most recent album, Gotta Get the Groove Back, moves from #7 to #6 on this week's Billboard Top Blues albums chart. It seems a small step, but in some ways it sums up the long, hard-plugging career of the Malaco Records artist, who died Wednesday night of a heart attack in a Dallas-area hospital. Taylor was 62.
Born Johnnie Harrison Taylor in Crawfordsville, Ark., on May 5, 1938, Taylor led a full life, not least from a musical standpoint. In 1957, he replaced the legendary Sam Cooke in the gospel group the Soul Stirrers when Cooke left to explore the world of secular music. Later, in 1967, Taylor signed as a solo artist to Stax Records, where he was dubbed the "Philosopher of Soul."
Taylor had major hits in both the '60s and '70s, notably the R&B standby "Who's Making Love" and "Disco Lady" (RealAudio excerpt). He signed with Malaco in 1984, and continued to straddle the R&B and blues idioms.
Debuting at #15 on the Top Blues albums chart is Live in Alabama and More (Miss Butch) by Peggy Scott-Adams, the latest from the woman who was known as Peggy Scott when she recorded a series of hit duets with Jo Jo Benson in the 1960s. Long out of the business, Scott revived her career in 1996 with the album Help Yourself and its risky single, "Bill," about a woman whose man is cheating on her with another man.
The remainder of the top 10 remains largely unchanged, with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's Blues at Sunrise, at #1 for the eighth straight week since its release. Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band's Live On is still at #2 while B.B. King's Makin' Love Is Good for You and Indigenous' Circle are at #3 and #4, respectively, reversing their relative positions of last week.
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble's The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Volume 2 sits at #5; Jonny Lang's Wander This World is at #7; Mel Waiters' Material Things is at #8; Shannon Curfman's Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions, drops to #9; and the various-artists The Best Blues Album in the World ... Ever! is at #10.
On the Gavin Americana survey of radio airplay, Steve Earle's Transcendental Blues, riding a wave of anticipation of its pending release and the breakout appeal of its title song, shoots to the top of this week's chart. It displaces last week's #1, the all-star I-10 Chronicles, which slips to #2.
"Transcendental Blues," which shipped to radio beginning April 25, has proved a compelling introduction to Earle's all-over-the-map album, with its combination of Beatles-style pop psychedelia and Tom Petty-ish roots-rock. The LP is due in stores Tuesday.
Making up the rest of the Americana top 10 are: Nickel Creek, Nickel Creek, at #3; BR5-49, Coast to Coast Live, at #4; Jimmie Dale Gilmore, One Endless Night, at #5; Todd Snider, Happy to Be Here, at #6; Walt Wilkins Band, Fire Honey & Angels, at #7; Neil Young, Silver & Gold, at #8; Mark David Manders & Nuevo Texas, Chilli Pepper Sunset, at #9; and Claire Lynch, Love Light, at #10.